Certainty for EU workers and Brexit bill hardline. View from the region as Brexit negotiations commence

Our survey has found people in our region have few regrets about voting for Brexit.
Picture: ANTONY

Our survey has found people in our region have few regrets about voting for Brexit. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Mark Lansley, chief executive of Broadland Wineries

Sam Cole

Sam Cole - Credit: Nick Butcher

We lost some margin temporarily on domestic sales, but our exports became 15% more competitive.

Sales of our lower priced UK-produced wines are increasing.

So on balance I would say some short-term pain, but longer-term gain.

Prime Minister Theresa May gives a speech at the Department
for International Development's office a

Prime Minister Theresa May gives a speech at the Department for International Development's office at Abercrombie House in East Kilbride Jane Barlow/PA Wire - Credit: PA


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For the negotiations, I'd like to see EU immigrants treated the same way that we treat non-EU immigrants.

I'd like us out of the EU customs union, with import tariffs no lower than those the EU impose on our exports. I'd like us out of ECJ jurisdiction, with current EU laws put in UK law. Our business does not need any new trade deals.

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And rather than being soft and talking about how much money we need to pay to leave the EU, I would be asking for re-imbursement for all the billions of pounds of net positive contributions we have made over the last 30 years.

Director of the Earlham Institute, Prof Neil Hall. Photo from Earlham Institute.

Director of the Earlham Institute, Prof Neil Hall. Photo from Earlham Institute. - Credit: Earlham Institute.

Prof Neil Hall, director of the Earlham Institute,

East Anglia is world-famous for its outstanding science and is home to many of our most talented, globally-recognised scientists, who come here to generate the knowledge that will drive innovation to grow our economy.

However, this can't be taken for granted and, rightly or wrongly, the fear of Brexit is already causing the flow of talent to reverse.

Now that Brexit seems inevitable, the government must establish some certainties for the many EU nationals working in science in the UK.

We must ensure that they know that their contribution is valued. We also need to understand how we can continue to work with our EU neighbours; as we will likely be leaving the Horizon 2020 funding framework. This framework has enabled the best academic and industrial scientists to come together so that Europe can compete with labs in the USA and emerging countries like China.

Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner, Larking Gowen

With overseas trips becoming more expensive as a result of the fall in the pound, the converse is that the UK may also become more attractive to overseas visitors.

There has been a lot of news about the potential benefits of Brexit and a surge in the 'staycation', which will bring clear benefits, but it is not all about the top line.

Goods brought in from abroad will be more expensive and recruitment could be a real long-term problem.

There are already difficulties in filing all the vacancies, across all staff levels, and any negativity in our ability to attract skilled staff from Europe and beyond could be a real issue.

The potential of tariffs, and employment levies on overseas staff could have negative impact on the tourism and leisure sector's ability to operate and generate profits for essential ongoing investment.

John Potter, managing director, Potters Leisure

Potters has never been busier, helped greatly by Brexit which I think encouraged people to rediscover the UK's short breaks offering.

We employ nearly 600 people at Potters Resort all year round, rather than seasonally, they nearly all live locally and so we do not have the same concerns about movement of labour as others in the tourism industry.

Running what is effectively a village, with everything from theatres to building teams and catering, we are exposed to every bit of red tape across all industries. Brexit is a great opportunity to free the wheels of business from unnecessary bureaucracy to be more competitive.

If we want to attract our European friends to visit the UK post-Brexit we must now address the imbalance of the UK's 20% VAT on tourism, this is twice the rate paid in most of Europe and puts us at a huge disadvantage.

On the other side, Potters Abroad, our foreign tour operation company has seen slower bookings, probably more because of heightened terrorism concerns and a weaker pound following Brexit.

Richard Hirst, who runs a mixed farm at Ormesby, near Great Yarmouth

He said there had been some positives for his business with the weak sterling rate raising the value of world commodities like wheat – but his main concern was about his labour force.

His farm hosts up to 250 seasonal workers, many from eastern Europe, during the peak season to help with picking and packing of vegetables and salad, but he said it has become increasingly difficult to recruit people since the Brexit vote.

'There is no doubt that it is becoming harder to recruit eastern European workers, the casual seasonal labour that we need,' he said. 'The numbers are significantly down. We don't yet know what the whole effect will be for the year, but there is less of a pool to choose from.

'I know a lot of people who are thinking about the crops they are growing to make sure that whatever they are planting is set to the labour requirement. It is restricting growth in the short-term.'

Simon Gray, chief executive, East of England Energy Group

Across the energy industry, the period since Brexit has probably gone better than many had expected.

The fall in the value of sterling has been useful to exporters, who have become more competitive in providing goods and services to areas such as the Middle East and the Gulf of Mexico.

There are still concerns over the issue of international workers - not only those we have in this country, but also UK workers who go out across Europe and the rest of the world.

As we move to a lower carbon economy, there may be a drive from the government to seek to increase the level of UK content in major construction projects. It will be interesting to see if Brexit results in more construction being done in the UK, and what the government's emerging energy strategy will be.

The energy industry is global, and people can trade anywhere almost instantly. One does wonder whether Brexit will impact that.

Sam Cole, managing director of Sam Cole Food Group

He warned that 'poor old fishing' had always been the poor relation.

'We have almost become a bargaining chip the smaller our industry has got,' he said.

Mr Cole said he did not think they would get a 200-mile fishing exclusion zone around our coast as they had before Brexit, and that it would probably be 12 miles.

He said he wanted to see much more localised authorities or producer organisations because different areas around the cost have unique fishing areas and species. He said quota should be set locally and the fishing industry had a vested interest in creating a sustainable fishery. He said 'flags of convenience' - whereby foreign boats fish under the UK quota - should be stopped post EU departure. He also pointed out that the weak pound in the aftermath of the Brexit vote has helped the fishing industry with its exports.

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